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Dean's Column

Student Organizations: A Training Ground for Engineering Leaders

Dean Seible places the Engineerís Ring on a studentís finger during the Order of the Engineer ceremony.
Dean Seible places the Engineerís Ring on a studentís finger during the Order of the Engineer ceremony.

It was with great pride that I participated in the Jacobs School’s first Order of the Engineer ring ceremony held during commencement weekend. More than 100 of our graduating engineers took an oath to practice engineering with integrity and high standards, and placed a ring on the fifth finger of their writing hand to remind them of their oath as they sign engineering documents.

To me, the ceremony was not only a symbol of how seriously our students take their engineering profession, but also of the incredible culture of leadership, teamwork and pride building among our student body. The ceremony was completely initiated and organized by our Triton Engineering Student Council, and was just one of the many examples of our ever-increasing student activism.

This year, our students launched five new professional organization chapters. But what is more amazing is how quickly they have hit the ground running. Our new International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience was named rookie of the year, and placed third nationally for their work to arrange for 10 of our students to do internships overseas while at the same time placing 10 interns from other countries here in San Diego. And our Innovative Design and Engineering Applications (IDEA) group finished their inaugural year by placing 9th in their national competition with the design of an off-road wheelchair.

We now have 17 professional organization chapters, and all of them are highly energized and passionate about their mission. When I came on as dean in 2003, only a handful of students attended the quarterly dinner with the dean meeting.Today, I’m likely to see 60 students and more attend—all with big ideas. Naturally, we try to be responsive to their requests and we have allocated 2,300 square feet to make room for student organization activities and projects.This year our students used every cent of our $28,400 matching fund for student competitions, while at the same time raising more than $100,000 in outside sponsorships.

I am just amazed by the quality and maturity of our students.These forward-thinking leaders understand that the university is their training ground and our professional organizations give them the opportunity to engage in community service, stretch their technical knowledge, and develop communications and leadership skills.

Thank you to all of our alumni and industry partners who support our students as mentors and sponsors.The smallest encouragement pays off in huge dividends as we work together to educate tomorrow’s technology leaders.

Frieder Seible